Berlin might not be a band too many are familiar with. Their music fits within the “New Wave” genre. But even that is a vague description. And, because they only released four studio albums before they split for the first time, the material is at a premium. Finding the Top 10 Berlin songs of all time will be an interesting journey.
A Difficult History
As a band, they did not have an easy time. Their most successful period was inextricably linked with singer Terri Nunn, but she was not always around. They formed in 1976 in California and were known as The Toys. The original singer, Ty Cobb, didn’t last long, and when he left, they changed the name to Berlin. Terri Nunn joined the band in 1978 but left the following year.
She rejoined in 1981 after a period spent pursuing activities some would not agree with. But we don’t need to pursue that here. Her reappearance in Berlin began their most successful period.
Splits and Legal Issues
She left again in 1986 after a disagreement over musical direction and a single they released. That single happened to be Berlin’s best-selling song. Nunn thought it a good addition to their set, but the others didn’t like it because no one in the band had written it.
The band formally split in 1987 after the failure of their album Count Three and Pray. They managed another album in 1991 when Nunn legally retained the rights to the band name. Another album came in 1997 with Nunn and a new line-up of musicians.
Considering all of that…
It was amazing they got any material out at all in a relatively short time. Add to that the genre they were mostly involved with, “New Wave,” which itself attracted a lot of criticism.
Their style of music was considered provocative, which I suppose it was. For that reason, many mainstream radio stations refused to play their music. But there is some material to consider, and it isn’t all doom and gloom. So, let’s take a look at the Top 10 songs by Berlin.
Top 50 Berlin Songs Of All Time
This is a track taken from the second album they recorded, Pleasure Victim. Released in 1983, it was a very minor success, only reaching #82 on the American chart. It is a song very reminiscent of some of Blondies’ material, with Terri Nunn almost acting out the part. What this track did show us was that she was a good singer, and this was always going to be a popular song.
Staying with the Pleasure Victim album and the title track. This was the second track released from the album. It made no impact on the chart in America. However, it did manage to get to #89 in Australia, where they were a popular band at the time. A very New Wave track with plenty of synthesizers and very laid-back vocals.
Dancing In Berlin
With certain genres of music, you need to make some allowances when judging success. Therefore, this song and others have to be judged on their commercial success with those considerations in mind.
“Dancing In Berlin” is taken from their 1984 album, Love Life. They do seem to have plenty of Antipodean fans, as the song reached #12 in New Zealand and #39 in Australia. You will still find this song is being played at clubs that favor New Wave music.
Noted more for its dance beat than anything else, it is very representative of the genre at the time. If you like that 80s period with plenty of synths and other electronic sounds, you will enjoy this.
This was a track that was taken from the 1987 album, Count Three and Pray. In reality, the album served as the end of the band in many ways. Not the least of which was its lack of commercial success. But, while the album was a disappointment, there were some singles taken from it that weren’t. This is one.
“Like Flames” reached #82 in America but found better success in the UK, where it peaked at #47. It also did well at #17 in Holland, #14 in Finland, #36 in Germany, and best of all, #10 in Belgium. A song of the times with plenty of dance rhythms and synths. But, it has a very infectious hook that helped.
Now It’s My Turn
Another track from one of their better albums, 1984’s Love Life. Whilst it didn’t shake up the world of music, it gave us a little look at what they might achieve in the future.
It charted in America, reaching #74. A decent vocal performance from Terri Nunn showed she was probably one of the top ten female singers of the time.
The track is not “world-class,” as some commentators like to infer. But it is a decent New Wave track. And, for fans of that genre and 80s electronic music in general, it will be something they will want in their collection.
Sex (I’m A…)
Going back to their second album, Pleasure Victim, this track was released as a single in 1981. Commercially, it was one of the most successful Berlin songs. It reached #4 in Canada, #18 in New Zealand, and #19 in Finland. It peaked at #62 on the main chart in America. Berlin didn’t often make the national music charts in most countries, but this is one song that is an exception.
No More Words
Back to their third album, Love Life, for this track, which again was a minor commercial success. It reached #23 in America, their second-best performance, and made it to #5 in New Zealand.
Another song that highlights Terri Nunn’s growing reputation as a singer. The song became a big favorite amongst fans. The music video was interesting, using the story of “Bonnie and Clyde” and the Great Depression as its backdrop. It was a well-produced video, but I am not sure the music fits the scenes playing out in front of you.
You Don’t Know
I have already said that the album Count Three and Pray had no real commercial success. But, there were tracks released and singles that did reasonably well. “You Don’t Know” was one of them.
Another song that highlighted Terri Nunn as a singer. It’s not hard to see why she led the most successful period in the band’s reasonably short history. It reached #39 in the UK, #6 in Belgium, and #29 in Ireland. However, it failed to chart in America.
A track from the second studio album, Pleasure Victim. This was their first single to make it to a mainstream chart. Released in 1981, it reached #58 in America. The song was written by John Crawford. Heavy, repetitive synthesizers dominate the song, as was common at the time.
Take My Breath Away
And so, to the track you knew was going to close this list of the Top 10 Berlin songs of all time. This track was written as the love theme for the film Top Gun by Tom Whitlock. It’s a song that everyone knows, whether you saw the film or not. As a result, it is the most popular Berlin song of all time.
Not surprising then that this was their most commercially successful song. It made the top spot in the chart of the UK, America, and Belgium and the top five in four other countries. It was included on their album Count Three and Pray.
Unfortunately, it also sounded the death knell for the band…
Terri Nunn rightly thought it a good song that was worth its place in their stage set. Not only because it is a good song but also because of its commercial success.
But toys were thrown out of the pram by other members who thought it was no good because they hadn’t written it. It didn’t fit their style of music.
Well, if you are so concerned about that, then the question that should be asked is, “Why didn’t you write a song as good yourselves?” Oh, you couldn’t, I see. I think we’ll let the record-buying public make the decision. No contest. A good song and one that could have been a springboard for more success.
When Love Goes to War
In My Dreams
All I Ever Need
Pink and Velvet
Blame It on the World
Break the Chains
Riding on the Metro
Matter of Time
No More Words (Dance Remix)
Sex (I’m A…)
Live to Tell
Dancing in Berlin (Dance Mix)
All the Way In
Brink of Destruction
No More Words (Extended Dance Mix)
Riding on the Metro (Instrumental)
You Don’t Know
In My Dreams (Extended Dance Mix)
Now It’s My Turn
Beg, Steal or Borrow
When We Make Love
Don’t Make Me Regret It
Pleasure Victim (Live)
Turn You On
Will I Ever Understand You
The Dope Show
Touch (Single Mix)
It’s the Way
The Other Side of the World
Now It’s My Turn (Club Mix)
Are You a Fan of 80s Music?
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Top 50 Berlin Songs Of All Time – Final Thoughts
Personal in-fighting was not the sole prerogative of those “alleged” supergroups that weren’t very “super.” Berlin is also a good case and a familiar story of someone not realizing the potential before them. We have only seen ten of Berlin’s best songs. So, if you want to hear more of their music, then this is a good place to start.
Since 1986, they released one album in 2002, Voyeur. There have also been some digital download albums. But, effectively, just at the point of their biggest success, the wheels came off. And no one seems to have thought about putting them back on.
Until next time, happy listening.